If you’ve been diagnosed with colon cancer, staying well nourished will help you achieve the best results in treatment.
While achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is an important post-treatment goal, during therapy is not the time to shed pounds. Losing even five percent of your body weight at this time can reduce how well you respond to therapy and decrease your likelihood of survival. Granted, keeping on the weight isn’t always easy, given that cancer treatments can wreak havoc on your appetite.
Make a delicious, homemade vegetable soup for lunch — it will go down easily, help keep you hydrated and can pack in plenty of nutrition in a small serving. If you aren’t able to cook for yourself, ask friends or family for help in making a batch — then freeze it in single-serving containers so you can just microwave each meal as you need it.
One of the critical reasons to keep your calorie intake at adequate levels is so the liver can produce albumin. One of the jobs of albumin is to carry drugs around the body. If levels drop, your body may not get the medication it needs.
Good foods to focus on include fish, eggs, nuts, dairy and soy products, as well as beans and legumes, advises Amanda Saldivar, MS, RD, LD, a dietitian at the Digestive Disease Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. Protein-rich foods such as these will help your liver produce albumin.
Don’t Let Side Effects Sideline You
Let’s face it: Cancer treatment makes it hard to eat well. Here’s how to address some of the most common side affects of cancer treatment and to keep your body in fighting shape as you undergo therapy.
Problem #1, Diarrhea: Radiation can cause inflammation and irritation in the lining of the intestine, which can trigger diarrhea. In addition to being unpleasant, it puts you at risk for dehydration. Keep your gut in check by:
- Cutting back on foods such as whole wheat, apple peels, chickpeas, beans, lentils and seeds, which are high in insoluble fiber and can irritate your colon. Insoluble fiber comes out the same way it went in (think corn), pushing waste out with it. Things are moving too fast in your gut as it is, so you don’t need any help in that department.
- Upping your intake of soluble fiber, which absorbs fluid in your gut and forms a gummy paste, making your stool more solid. Good sources: plain oatmeal, ripe bananas, applesauce and citrus fruit. However, most foods that have soluble fiber also have some insoluble fiber as well, so a dissolvable fiber supplement (for instance, Benefiber or Metamucil) may be of help to you to help bind the stool.
Problem #2, Nausea: Some of the drugs used in colon cancer treatment can set off a series of reactions in your brain, ultimately triggering the section that controls nausea and vomiting. Along with taking your anti-nausea medications (hint: your doctor gave them to you for a reason), use these tactics to combat that queasy feeling: